Dig 2021: #6 Through the midden

24 July 2021

This is our trench opening at the East wall of the West Pavilion. We are doing this to discover the stratification here and the depth of the Pavilion’s foundations. It doesn’t look very exciting yet: But just wait. The concrete blocks fill up the wide cart door and we see the quoins of its jamb.

The first surface is a rough cement and pebble matrix. There should be several other layers below: Possibly paths or even paving as we get deeper. Time will tell.

The long view.


As you see, the step curb has been revealed further showing the muddy midden fill, which it is built on. The founds of the step dip down a slope, which probably existed at that time. It also dips into a cut near the drain. To the right of the step we came down to this clayey glacial til material. It is quite solid. It may be redeposited natural? We shall find out. However, as you see there has been a deep cut through it as we get closer to the drain. This cut may have enabled the building of the drain and a deeper found for the steps at that point.

A closer look here shows the edge with possible curved spade marks. The little gully is actually ‘Andrew’s Gully’ as last year we had gone a little deeper by the drain wall and stopped. The groundwater was welling up everywhere and then my gully drained a wee lake, which had formed further up the trench! It certainly showed how well the stone drain performed, though.

Going deeper into this, we found a pile of bones. One a splendid beef rib, which made me think of Plat de Cote. A favourite dish of France and mine. There were many smaller bones too, bird, fish and perhaps game animals? What was most intriguing was that the dark, wet soil contained masses of tiny brown eggshell fragments. It was wonderful to see them. They were as fresh as the hard boiled egg I had for my lunch! It is so good to get ‘in touch’ with the past in this tangible way.


We took a large bucketful of this rich deposit for sieving and analysis. Who knows what other types of kitchen refuse we might discover? All this throws light into the life of those in The Hall of Clestrain and possibly John Rae, even though he was living there some time before this episode.

Another find from the dig on Thursday was a beautifully machine turned bone button. We can certainly get a date for this piece as it indicates the Industrial Revolution.

We hope you enjoyed this blog and will keep up with next weeks’ episodes.



If you wish to support the Archaeology then use our donation form.